Right around the age of 40, most people start having difficulty reading or focusing on close objects. This is because everyone develops presbyopia, or a thickening of the eye’s lens that makes it more difficult to read or see small things close up. This affects everyone in middle age, regardless of whether they are already nearsighted or have never had problems with their eyes before.
What Causes It?
As we age, the lens of the eye thickens and loses flexibility. This continues to occur until about the age of 65. This hardening of the lens makes it more difficult for the eye to focus on things that require close focus such as reading, needlework or writing. This is a perfectly natural progression of the aging eye.
How Do I Know if it’s Time for Reading Glasses?
You may notice that you have trouble focusing on objects that are close up or your vision is worse in dim light, if you are fatigued, or if you have consumed alcohol. If you find you have eye strain or headaches when attempting to focus close, you should see your eye care provider. He or she will be able to determine if you need reading glasses, and what strength you need.
Are there different types of bifocals?
If you are already nearsighted, bifocals have two prescriptions in one lens. The top portion is for objects that are far away and the bottoms are for reading or close work. Progressive Addition Lenses are a type of bifocal that offer a smoother transition on the lens, and offer a medium distance focus in the middle. These are also cosmetically pleasing as the transition does not show on the lens the way a traditional bifocal does.
What if I wear contacts?
If you already wear contacts, there are also options that don’t require glasses. You can be fitted for multi-focal contacts which are for distance on top and close ups on the bottom. There is also the option of Monovision, where one eye has a contact for far away and the other is for close up. There are choices in both gas permeable lenses and soft lenses.